Solving Business Communication Problems Through Hostage Negotiation Solutions with Chris Voss

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People, regardless of the situation they’re in, are wired the same in reacting to the fear of loss. Chris Voss, CEO of The Black Swan Group, has found this fear to be a driving decision-making influence, and he leverages this when it comes to negotiations. As a veteran lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, Chris has brought hostage negotiation solutions to solving business communication problems. He tells us all about it, beginning with his journey from being a police officer to becoming a hostage negotiator. Chris’ book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It, takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations. He reveals the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most – saving lives.

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Solving Business Communication Problems Through Hostage Negotiation Solutions with Chris Voss

I am super excited to have the famous Chris Voss with us. This guy is going to teach us something about communication in a very special way. Chris is the CEO of The Black Swan Group and the author of the national bestseller, Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, which was named one of the seven best books on negotiation. He’s a 24-year veteran of the FBI and he retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator. He’s drawing on his experience in high-stakes negotiation, his company specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions. Their negotiation methodology is focused on discovering the “Black Swans,” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on the outcome. He and his team have helped companies secure and close better deals, save money, solve international and internal communication problems. Chris, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Penny. I’m happy to be here. It’s an absolute pleasure.
In your bio, you talk about how you’re using your FBI experience to bring it into business. How do you make that bridge because you’re dealing with hostages?
It took me a long time to feel that it was going to happen but the bottom line, regardless of the circumstances, are wired the same. We react the same to fear of loss. Fear of loss is a driving decision-making influence whether you’re a terrorist or a teenager.
These techniques that you found, you can use these at home, you can use these at work, you can use them everywhere. Is that right?
Yeah, we’ve all got the same wiring. We’re all driven the same regardless of gender and ethnicity, as crazy as it sounds.
How did you become an FBI negotiator? Is that something that someone says when they’re ten, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It was the Rocky Balboa line, “I couldn’t sing or dance.” I was in law enforcement. I was a police officer. I became an FBI agent. I was on the FBI SWAT team in Pittsburgh. I was in the process of trying out for the FBI’s version of the Navy SEALs, which is the Hostage Rescue Team. A lot of former SEALs and Delta Force guys on that team. I reinjured my knee in the process of trying out. We had hostage negotiators. They’d always showed up when the SWAT team showed up. That job looks easy. Those guys sat in a nice, warm room talking on the phone. How hard could it be? It was cooler. I got into it. I was fascinated with human dynamics, emotional intelligence at the highest level. I loved it. It became an addiction and one thing led to another.
I can understand that being in addiction because I find that with emotional intelligence too. The more I learn about people and how we work, I’m a fanatic around language and words because a lot of that has so much energy that comes from our emotional intelligence and can shape it. I totally get that. It’s an exciting field.
The idea that you can use words to steer outcomes and change the game with words is a cool thought. It’s addicting.
I’m passionate about the energy of words. How did you use words to change outcomes? We’ll start with the FBI world and then we’ll see an example in the business world if we could.
To learn how to become an FBI hostage negotiator, I first started on a suicide hotline in New York City. The crazy thing about the hotline was the ground rules from the beginning like you will be on the phone no longer than twenty minutes. I thought, “Twenty minutes, you’ve got to be kidding me.” In the movies, they’re on for hours. It’s going to take hours. They’re up all night trying to talk somebody down. They’re like, “No.” I remember being astonished.
Why twenty minutes?
If you do it right, it’s less. On the outside, if you’re not doing a good job, maybe twenty minutes to change an outcome. Once you’re wiring somebody’s limbic system, their emotional reactions, you can change things up fast. You can steer somebody’s thought patterns. I remember that thinking like, “This stuff has got to be applicable to everyday life.” It was always trying to use it to change outcomes, to change people’s minds nearly instantaneously. I continued to study it from that point on.
Give us an example. I know maybe you don’t remember one specifically, but maybe you do. You talk about some specific words that you use in your books and how that creates different outcomes. Let’s talk about one of those tips of how it was used in the FBI world.
I’ll go back to the one on the hotline too because it became the model for what we’re doing in business. The model is, first of all, instead of pitching positives, which everybody wants to pitch in a business deal, “Here’s why you should do this. Here’s how this will benefit you or even in personal interaction. I want you to go to the movies with me. I want you to go to this restaurant with me. I want you to do this because here’s how it will benefit you,” that’s backwards. Why we won’t do things are more important than why we will.
Empathy is not agreement or disagreement Share on X Danny Kahneman won the Nobel Prize on Behavioral Economics in 2002 for saying, “Stating loss stings twice as much as an equivalent gain.” There’s a lot of data out there that says 70% of buying decisions are made to avoid loss, not to accomplish gain but to get rid of a problem. One night this guy called in, he was rattled. I could hear the anxiety in his voice. I said, “You sound anxious.” Something as simple as identification of the negative, brain science backs it up, simple identification, not denial. Identification diffuses it. Most people would say, “I don’t want you to feel anxious.” The two-millimeter shift is to say, “You sound anxious.”
If you tell me, “I don’t want you to feel that way,” who cares what you want? That would be my thought in my head.
His innocence, his push back attacks our autonomy to tell somebody not to do something. We will die to preserve our autonomy. The United States is a country, give me liberty or give me death. We are a country founded on the preservation of autonomy. It’s not just the United States, it’s a human nature function. That’s why telling someone not to feel something has the opposite reaction that you want. The identification of it causes people to contemplate it in a different way and calm them down. It’s what I said to this guy on the phone, once simple observation, “You sound anxious.” There was an instantaneous response. We didn’t we have neuroscience back then. The neuroscience tells us that it instantly calmed the amygdala, the caveman brain, the reptile brain. One guy referred to the amygdala as the puppy dog.
The puppy dog calms down and the guy starts laying out to me everything he’s struggling with. He’s telling me how his family is supporting him. I said to him, “Your family sounds close.” This seems innocuous, especially to the observer, but I can remember somebody once telling me that about my family. I can remember how good it felt when he made that observation. What we know from brain science, it felt good because I got a solid hit of dopamine from this observation and contemplating the observation and it strengthens you.
Dopamine is a component of flow. The psychology of flow increases our performance in all instances. You get a hit a little bit of flow. I’m talking to this guy a little bit more and he’s telling me how hard he’s working on solving his problem. All I said was, “You sound determined.” He goes, “I am determined. Thanks for everything you did for me. I can tackle this now.” He hung up. Through the course of about a seven-minute conversation, I took a guy, who’s completely beside himself. I said three things, but the first of which was diffusing the negative. That’s the sequence.
If done in that order, it has that impact. Would it have the same impact if it was in a different order?
No, because the negatives overshadow the positives always.
You’ve got to do that first.

Either that or spin your wheels. I’ve got to tell you something, I’m lazy. My identification of a negative is going to have probably more than three to five times the impact. To me, I’m like, “Shoot at this target and you point to the tree at.” “I’m shooting at that target. I’m lazy. I want to take the least amount of time possible to get to where I want to go.”
Is that a self-strategy as well? If we’re frustrated, we should be able to identify what we’re feeling. When we identify that unproductive or negative feeling, then that helps us to get over it.
A guy wrote a book called The Upward Spiral. They did that exact experiment. They monitored people’s amygdala activity as they induced negative emotions in them via photographs. They showed him a picture to make him feel sad, anxious, scared, lonely, whatever it is. They’d simply say, “What are you feeling now?” As soon as a person identified the negative, it diffused, if not diffused entirely. You can absolutely do it on yourself. I do this sometimes like I’ll say, “I’m afraid,” and then I’ll say, “Screw that. I’m not scared.” After I repeat it about four or five times because I know it diminishes it every time I say it.
There are people who are frustrated sometimes about not having too much to do and not getting things accomplished. One of the things that people have a challenge with is if they have multiple priorities and letting go of what they can’t do. Identifying this negative is giving you the ability to let go where instead of holding on, we’re letting go. This can be used in any context. I want the audience to be clear that this is emotional gold that you’re giving us right here. They get nothing else out of this call, other than identifying that negative, that’s going to get us back into the part of our brain that we can solve problems with.
Just call it up. It diffuses it little by little or in big chunks. Either way, it works in your favor.
What were the other two again? We start by diffusing the negative.
If you get the negatives diffused, now you can shift to the positives if you need to. In many cases, if you can get the negatives out of the way, the positives might take over and make the deal, make the agreement, make the interaction, level yourself out, whatever you’re after. Positives unleashed can be very powerful. You unleash them by eliminating the negatives.
Let’s talk about a business scenario. How have you seen the show-up and be used in a business scenario? Sometimes people aren’t that creative and they can’t imagine it in their head and make that transfer. What’s an example that you have from a business environment?
If you believe experience is the best teacher, then more likely you’re not trying to get better. Share on X We coach you in a private equity firm. They’re sitting down to make a deal. Rolling out all the negatives to start off with, going after them heavy. It’s something we refer to as an accusations audit. All the accusations they might make against this, let’s lay them out first to diffuse each and every one of them and see what happens. The private equity company we’re coaching, they get back to us on a deal. They said, “We sit down and we laid out the accusations, the deal made itself.” We didn’t say another word.
What would be an example of an accusation? Any sales team, they all review what the obstacles are. What the potential things that people could say, the refusals like, “It’s too expensive.” How would you put that on the table that they might be thinking it’s too expensive?
What are they harboring if what you have is too expensive? What they’re harboring is that you’re greedy. You say, “I’m sure we’ll agree.” I’m sure we look like we don’t care about the little guy. I’m sure it looks like we’re trying to intimidate everybody around us. I’m sure that it looks like that we’ll love them and leave them type of operation. What I laid out there, the subtle changes, it’s the absolute definition of empathy. I never agreed with any of that. I said, “I’m sure it looks like.” What I am is giving validation to your perspective. What you do with that and some sharp people see this as self-effacing.
People with high emotional intelligence have come to learn that being self-effacing is extremely powerful. It makes relationships, not just deals progress fast. “I’m sure I looked like a jerk here. I’m sure what I want makes me look like a jerk.” That’s self-effacing and that’s not self-debasing. You’re not saying I am or I agree. It’s a recognition of the other side’s perspective, which is what empathy is all about. Here’s how it looks to you. It looks like I’m a jerk. I never agreed. I never disagreed. What I did was I showed myself fearless and accountable with what I’m saying.
You are confident at the same time. That’s where fearless comes from. You’re letting them know that you’re willing to talk about the difficult things that they might be feeling or thinking. It’s super powerful.
It will turn a lot of levels.
I don’t do that. I consider myself emotionally intelligent. I’m taking notes like mad because it’s amazing. I never thought about it. You can diffuse that immediately when you come at it like that. I’m sure this looks like. If they didn’t feel like that way, they would say, “No, it doesn’t.”
That’s it exactly. That’s the secondary fear that most people have is what if you plant the negative and what ends up happening, you inoculate from it or if I know that I’m getting ready to say something, you’re not going to like, maybe you don’t have any negative thoughts whatsoever at this moment. If I know you’re not going to like what I have to say, I’m going to say, “You’re not going to like this.” I’m going to shut up and give you permission to go on.

There’s some psychology on the other side of pre-framing. You might be pre-framing that they’re not going to like this. As I hear you, it’s also the wording that you’re using and what comes next that determines what the pre-frame is. Is that the difference there of me not pre-framing, “You’re not going to like this,” but it’s what comes next.
How does this work for us in advance? It gives you the side a little bit of fair warning. There’s an appreciation. It works on a lot of levels to get out in front of problems. The two-millimeter shift is denial plants the negative. I don’t want you to think. I don’t want you to lie. I don’t want you to think that what I’m getting ready to say is going to be disrespectful.
I feel it because of the way that you said it, “I don’t want you to feel that way,” then I’m starting to feel that way. My favorite is when somebody wants to sell you something and they go, “I’m not trying to sell you something.” It sure feels like it. A subtle tweak of saying, “I’m sure this seems like I’m trying to sell you something.” It seems like it’s a totally different approach in the way that I might create resistance or not.
Stating that up front opens people up.
We were talking about words and how they can make such a big difference. I know there are some other tips that you have around words that you use. What are some other areas that you talk about in your book?
We don’t like the word, yes. Everybody thinks that yes is a goal. Yes is nothing without how to start with. There are so many fake yeses out there. We call them counterfeit yeses. There are three kinds of yes: commitment, confirmation and counterfeit. Most people try to lead us into the commitment yes, with a series, little confirmation yeses. They call it tie downs. It’s a violation of autonomy. Everybody hates it.
It’s trying to get you. You don’t feel like you didn’t mean to say yes. If you did, it was like you’re tricked into it.
Globally, everybody hates that. I can show it over and over again, it’s so easy. The crazy, ridiculous, insane, stupid thing is if you get people to say no, they love it. I’ve had clients say, “The other side is in no mode. Everything we say, they say no.” I’m like, “Change your questions.” When it’s stupid is going from saying, “Do you agree?” to saying, “Do you disagree?” Saying, “Does this sound like something that would work for you? Is it ridiculous to think that this would work for you?” He will say, “No, it’s not a ridiculous thing.”
Why we won't do things are more important than why we will. Share on X It would work for me, but here are the following things I need in order to make it work. What you’re looking for is what comes after either yes or no to understand. They won’t say yes to begin with. If they give you the counterfeit yes, they’re not going to give you more information because they’re going to feel like that they’d been cornered even more. No one feels cornered by no. They’re going to drop the rest of it on you right away. “No, that wouldn’t work for me but if you want it to work, here’s what you’ve got to do.” Now, you know how to make the deal work.
They’re going to be open to giving you more information by eliciting a no versus that yessing.
It’s five times more open at least. It’s absolutely insane how effective it is.
Why do they keep teaching in these sales courses, get them into these yes patterns when it doesn’t work half as good as this?
There are a couple of reasons why. A lot of people that get into sales, they’re going to lean on what made them successful. They don’t realize their batting average is low. If you’re yes addicted and the typical sales conversion rate is anywhere from 3% to 15%. You look around and you see everybody else has got that same conversion rates so you think you’re engaging in best practices. You’re doing as good as everybody else. You’ve got no idea that your conversion rate should be 35%.
You’re hitting a plateau with the yes. You might be getting success, but you’re hitting this plateau whereas you could surpass that by using a better strategy.
You look around and you don’t see feedback that tells you otherwise. We talk about this analogy all the time. What’s an effective analogy? If you think about basketball, most people don’t realize that the way basketball used to be played, they did something called a two-handed set shot. It’s a shot from their waist. They got about 30, 45 feet away from the basket because you had to be far enough away from the defenders so that they wouldn’t block the shot. Back in the ‘20s through the ‘50s, everybody shot like that. Somebody came up with this thing called the jump shot.
When they first started the jump shot, everybody that was playing basketball said, “That’s not the way to win. We win with two-handed set shots and you are never going to win with jump shots.” The guys that were doing jump shots said, “We don’t care what you think. We don’t care what the best practices are. We’re going to start doing this.” The jump shooters then absolutely began to destroy everybody. I’ve got to tell you something, the people that are negotiating the way that we teach in our book, they have blown everybody else away.

If you are reading this, get that book first of all and read it like a thousand times because there are so many little nuances. I’ve read the book. I’ve followed a lot of things you’re doing. Every time you say it in slightly a different way, you get it that much more into your system, in your psyche. This is great stuff. We’ve got affirming the negative, identifying the negative. We’ve got to start with no. What else?
Some of these start to accumulate and one of the ways to get a little skill that accumulates into a bigger one is this thing we call the mirror. The mirror is repeating the last one of three words of what someone said. It’s not the body language mirror. It’s not the tone of voice mirror. If you put your hand to your chin, I’ve got to put my hand on my chin. If you lean to the right, I’ve got to lean in the same direction where we line up. It’s not that at all. A hostage negotiator’s mirror is a repetition of the last one, the three-ish words of what they have said. Sometimes as many as five but never more than five because that’s when you start to get into something called paraphrasing.
That would be considered paraphrasing if you repeated.
Paraphrasing is rewarding. It’s tiny little concise surgical hit. It gets the other person to go on. It gets them to go on or clarify like the classic one, “I don’t ever ask anybody, what did you mean by that?” If somebody says, “This is going to be difficult to do this,” you’re going to be tempted to say, “What do you mean by difficult?” which is a good what question. The tone of voice is important. You’ll get a 75% accurate answer on that. Instead, if I go like if you say, “It’s going to be difficult,” and I’ll say, “It’s going to be difficult.” You go, “What I mean by that,” and then you expand. You’ll expand it a huge way. You use new and different words. Other risks that you run into when you say, “What do you mean by that?” there’s a good chance they’re going to repeat exactly what they said only louder. The same way that I asked directions when I’m in France. I say, “English only,” louder or the cab driver in Paris says, “Where’s your hotel?” I go up into the right and they’ll say, “What?” I’ll say, “Up into the right.” He can’t understand me.
I’m a big, “What do you mean by that?” I like to have people expand upon what they’re saying so I’m not making an assumption. This takes that to a whole new level. It’s interesting because I went to a school for coaching. I have a coaching degree and everything. They talk about mirroring and repeating what people are saying. This is in a different context, very specific using those last three words to get them to open up more without you asking directly for it.
We’ve got a lot of free content out there. We’ve got a newsletter out there and we’ve got stuff on our YouTube channel. I put up a video on mirroring on our YouTube channel. Two examples of, I mirrored a bank robbery. Bank robbery behind a guy on the other side, a ridiculously controlling guy. I asked him about the van that we thought was a getaway van. At this point of time, we had no idea that one of the bank robbers was no longer at the scene. The get-away driver had gotten away. We didn’t know that. We thought everybody was inside. I asked a bank robber about the van. He goes, “You chased my driver away.” I said, “We chased your driver away?”
He goes, “When he saw the police, he cut and run.” At that point in time, we had no idea that there was someone that had gotten away. In fact, that ended up being the only evidence we had linking the getaway driver to the crime because no witnesses had seen him. That’s why we didn’t know anybody got away. The bank robber in the inside was an extremely controlling guy and that was one of the only times he blurted something out accidentally. That was how we got the conviction to the bank robber in that particular case or the getaway driver.
When you’re dealing with a bank robber, a hostage situation or whatever, how do you get to a place where you know you can be open and empathetic? Some people might say, “I don’t like the person on the other side. I have an issue, therefore I don’t respect them, I don’t trust them.” How do you deal with that as an issue?
If you get the negatives diffused, you can shift to the positives if you need to. Share on X It starts out of what you define empathy as from the very beginning and what safety nets do you need. As a hostage negotiator, from the very beginning, we needed to apply empathy to someone we had no common ground with, we didn’t agree with in any way, shape or form, we didn’t like, we didn’t care for and none of that. Empathy is articulating the other side’s point of view. It’s not agreement. It’s not disagreement. If you take this very narrow definition of empathy, then you can be empathic with the most despicable person in the world. The tiny shift while being empathic, being empathetic is a compassionate thing to do. It doesn’t require compassion. I don’t have to have compassion for you in any way, shape or form to be empathetic.
The act of it demonstrates compassion. That’s the tiny little shift that could freeze me to use empathy with someone I have no compassion for. I’m not being disingenuous because I never said I had compassion for you. However, at the same time, the benefit that I love from it is you will feel compassion. Even if you’re a sociopath, which most terrorists are, you’ll appreciate it. I’m going to be able to influence you. We had one case where after the kidnapping was over, we had hit the sociopathic terrorist on the other side with so much tactical empathy, intentional empathy that the hostage walked away. Three weeks later the terrorist called the negotiator I was coaching on the phone to congratulate him on how effective it was.
They appreciate the art. They see themselves as smart, intelligent and the fact that someone accomplishes something over them recognizes their art.
It was one of those things that I don’t think our bad guy knew what he was saying. He didn’t understand how or why he was moved, but it moved him sufficiently for him to call an adversary on the phone. He said to him, literally on the phone, “Have you been promoted yet? You’re really good at what you do.”
That point that you made around the fact that it’s how you define empathy and that it’s being open to others’ perspective, not agreeing with it. Not liking them, not endorsing it, but understanding that you have an outcome by opening up this perspective. You can be empowered and purposeful but not emotional in those critical moments.
Being willing to hear the other side out. It’s the Stephen Covey advice from way back when, “Seek first to understand then be understood.”
You say that like it’s so easy. We’re emotional beings. You trigger something and people can get so angry at first. They feel personally attacked even in an office situation. They could feel so personally attacked. How do you suggest a person to calm themselves down? Is that going back to affirm the negative, so that they can get in that space to have a constructive conversation?

You can hit it a number of different ways. It might be how you’re wired or how you’re wired in a moment. Sheila Heen and Doug Stone wrote a great book called Difficult Conversations. In that, they call the curiosity stinks. If you’re genuinely curious about why somebody thinks something, that puts you in a mind frame, you don’t feel threatened. You won’t get triggered as easily. To be genuinely curious is a great way to keep yourself from getting triggered. You can label yourself in a moment, “Why is this making me mad.” That’ll bring it down or that’ll bring those negativities down. When I started getting my buttons punched, the only reason I’m in this conversation is that life is going pretty well. I’m lucky to be in this situation. It’s the gratitude hack.
That’s my hack. Talk more about that.
I live in Southern California. Everyone in California is grateful. It’s a very smart emotional intelligence hack because you’re 31% more effective than a positive frame of mind. You have more mental agility. You can process more information. You have a broader focus. You’re not tunnel vision with a positive frame of mind. Gratitude hack works for you and a whole bunch of ways that make you smarter. It’s a best practice for those reasons. You are more effective when you’re grateful because you’re positive. You can think more and you can recognize patterns quicker.
I do a bunch of exercises and stuff around that. Do you have any kids?
I have my 33-year-old son as a Chief of Operations in my company.
Remember back to when he was a teenager when he knew how to get on that nerve. How did you switch at that moment to use as a gratitude hack, to get in a better state of mind, to deal with him? He certainly wasn’t helping you to identify the negative and that type of thing.
More in the moment as I was quicker to pull a trigger on saying no. That was what gave us a lot of insight when I look back on those days as to the effectiveness of no. Each and every time I said no to my son and I’d interrupt him, he’d say, “Dad, can I?” “No,” before he even finished. I’d say, “Now that I’ve said no, what is it that you want?” I’d be more willing to hear him out having said no. A lot of people misinterpret that. They say teenagers, kids don’t take no for an answer. What they learned is how much more persuadable their parents are once the parent has said no. That’s why they’re not deterred by it. People open up more having said no. Probably more than likely anything else because when your teenager is trying to take you hostage, it’s hard to stay in a gratitude place. At this point in time, most of the time people are saying, “I can’t wait until you’re 24 and your brain catches up with the rest of you.”
I use little hacks. It’s true. It’s challenging. My kids are teenagers. I get to practice all these different things and just recognizing, “This too shall pass.” They’re going to get through this phase. Love and logic have a great thing where they say, “I love you too much to argue.” That gets you into gratitude and puts you into the love piece. It worked for so many years. My son started to go, “Don’t give me that. That’s a cop-out.” You’ve got to find strategies because they know what works for a long time. You’ve got to find something else. That’s on our toes.
Empathy is all about the recognition of the other side's perspective. Share on X When in doubt, wear them up.
I feel like I’m being worn out most of the time, but that’s a good point. I’ve got to reverse the ways there. My son, with that comment, felt like he was being manipulated. He was saying it’s a cop-out. Do you ever get when you’re using some of these tactics even with family members or work people after you’ve used them or they know who you are? They know that you are the guy who is the negotiator. How do you deal with that? Did they ever feel manipulated?
It’s not the techniques, it’s where it’s taking you. We hone in on that instinctively as human beings quickly. Particularly because we use these tools, techniques, strategies and tactics on each other and my company all the time because we’re working together. You start to get a bad feeling when you can’t put your finger on when somebody is trying to manipulate you. That’s when some of this stuff starts to backfire like triggering and the no. I’ll pick up on that fast when some companies are trying to take advantage of us or they don’t ever want to train with us, they want to know how we train. A classic one is, “Send us an RFP because we want to see how you do something.” They’re looking for free consulting. If somebody starts up an email to me or you against sending us an RFP for training, my answer is always going to be, “Yes, I am.”
It comes back to intention when you said, where you’re being led to. You’re more observing when you see those techniques, you’re open to it, but you’re looking as to where they’re taking you with that. You’re building a picture of what the intention behind it is.
Once I get a clear picture of your intention of it, if it’s malicious or if you’re trying to cheat me in some way, I’ll stop talking. I’m not going to talk to you.
You shut it down. On the other side, if somebody were to say that to you, “You’re using those techniques again. You’re trying to get a better price from me and you’re using those techniques.” Do you ever come across that?
I’ll double down on the techniques. I’m going to double down on what you’re saying to me. If you’ve got your guard up that high, you don’t trust me. I’ll say, “It sounds like you don’t trust me.”
I was going to say, going back to what you said in the beginning, is to identify what’s going on.

If you don’t want what’s going on between us, draw it out into the open for us to discuss. If you’re against that, you’re probably not on my side. They say trustworthy people trust. If you’re extremely mistrustful, the inverse saying is probably true as well. You’re probably not trustworthy. I’m going to need to know that early on.
These are great tips, tricks and techniques. What else do you think is important for our audience, something important that we didn’t cover that I didn’t ask?
Hearing the other side out is a great time hack, overall. Take the time to do that. Start taking the time to fully hear the other side out. It will seem like the conversation in the moment is being sidetracked on unnecessary areas. This is one of the reasons why we accelerate people’s deal-making philosophy. We accelerate your agreement velocity because it takes away the friction to the conversation. You can increase your velocity by taking away the friction or by adding lubrication. If you look at a three-one ratio on your gains from taking away friction, you will accelerate things a lot faster by taking away friction and nothing takes away friction better than hearing somebody up.
It seems so obvious, but it is interesting that everybody is so busy and everything is rushed. I think that is what’s missing and maybe why there is more conflict. I’ve seen some of the statistics that managers spend more than 45% of their time dealing with conflict and whatnot. I wonder if it’s not because they’re not giving enough time to hear people out or they’re not listening. Do you see that? Do you think that is an issue being everybody is so busy and rushed?
That’s an interesting statistic and I think you’re 1,000% right. It’s the inefficiency of communication and not hearing people out that’s causing so much additional conflict because people won’t feel heard.
Thank you so much for all of these great nuggets.
Let’s tell people how to subscribe to the free newsletter.
I want you to also tell the various different stages of organizations reading this. They might be people looking to gain capital and they could use some of your techniques to get a better deal or to get a faster deal. There are different stages of businesses. Tell us who you like to work with. How to get to your newsletter and find out more information?
Everybody thinks that 'yes' is a goal when it is nothing without how to start with. Share on X The simple way to subscribe to the newsletter is via text to sign up function. The number you text to is 22828 and the message you send is FBIEmpathy. Who do we like to work with? It’s going to sound like a cliché, but we like to work with top performers. The people who either are the top 1% or on their way to be in the top 1%. You’ve got to be a learner. If you’ve never bought a book on negotiation, you want to come to our training sessions, you’ve never spent the time to try to get yourself better. We find it over and over again. Not everybody is a learner, not everybody intentionally makes themselves better. If you believe, “Experience is the best teacher,” more than likely you’re not trying to get better.
Instead of having ten years of experience, you’ve had one year of experience, ten times. What’s your personal culture? What’s your corporate culture? If your personal culture, if your corporate culture is to learn, we’re going to do great together. There are some companies that say, “It’s on the individual to make themselves better.” That isn’t a great learning culture. We probably won’t work with you as a company. The people that you’re sending out, we’ll work with them individually. If you don’t think it’s on your culture to help your people get better, then we’re probably not for you.
It’s important to know so that also people can identify and do the right things before they get to you if they’re not already ready to be there. Are there corporate events that you have or do you also hold public events where various different companies and individuals could come to your events as well?
We’re doing a total of thirteen of those events across the country. The schedule is on our website, Also, there are announcements for those training sessions in the newsletter. They are open to anybody who wants to sign up. They are expensive.
It should be because people pay attention to what they paid for. This skill, it’s an acceleration of leadership. It’s an acceleration of sales or depending on what your role is, emotional intelligence. That’s the best investment there is.
We are an accelerator. Invest in you and accelerate it.
You’ve given us a lot of great places, where you can reach you and things like that. Tell us a little bit about you personally. People like to hear also the struggles and what you’ve overcome. What’s a big challenge in your life that you’ve overcome that has made you a better person?
Reading the tea leaves or reading the signs in the universe. Bad things have always lead to better things for me. Tearing up my knee was the reason I became a hostage negotiator. I became a full-time hostage negotiator because I got passed over for promotion when I was in New York and that led to better things. Leaving SWAT led to better things. I left the FBI because I got passed over for promotion again. I remember thinking then I was like, “The last time I got passed over for promotion, awesome stuff happened when I went a new direction.” I’m very definitely a believer in bad things leads to better things. I’ve come to believe that as my life has continued.
We get to a certain place in our lives and we hit that plateau, that’s the universe’s way of opening us up and not such an easy way. We wish it could be easier. Unfortunately, it’s usually in those ways. Thank you, Chris, so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your experience. I’m definitely going to check out those events and get to one of those events. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Penny. It was fun to be with you.
Thank you all because without you, we wouldn’t have a show. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Chris Voss

Chris Voss is CEO of the Black Swan Group and author of the national best-seller “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” which was named one of the seven best books on negotiation. A 24-year veteran of the FBI, Chris retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator. Drawing on his experience in high-stakes negotiations, his company specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions.
Their negotiation methodology focuses on discovering the “Black Swans,” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on an outcome. Chris and his team have helped companies secure and close better deals, save money, and solve internal communication problems. Chris has been featured in TIME, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company, Fortune, The Washington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, Squawk Box, CNN, ABC News and more.

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